Council seek legal advice over Skegby caravan park as residents say the situation is affecting their health

Residents at a Skegby caravan park met with their MP this week in a bid to move forward after an eviction notice was served earlier this year.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 5:07 pm

Residents at Ashfield Residential Mobile Home Park in Skegby were served with an eviction notice after Ashfield District Council issued a Compliance Notice to landowners after finding a number of essential repairs were needed to bring the land up to standard.

The Compliance Notice gave the landowners, ATE Farms Ltd, until September 29 to complete the repairs, and Ashfield District Council are now seeking urgent legal advice after they failed to take action.

The residents of the 23 homes on the site met with MP Lee Anderson on Wednesday last to air their concerns, with many admitting the stress and uncertainty was affecting their health.

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Residents told the MP that they have all 'had enough'

Spokesperson for the homeowners, 68-year-old Gillian Cassettari explains: “I have lived here for 11 years, but some of the residents have been on this site for 40 years – this is our home.

“We feel like we are being forced to leave, and it is affecting many of the residents’ health.

“We are being told that our electricity rates are being put ‘through the roof’ and many are worried they won’t be able to afford the increases, especially during winter.”

Residents at the mobile home park own their own homes, which cost up to £60,000 each and pay rental fees and council tax, along with their usual utility bills.

Resident Gillian Cassettari.

The residents include an 86-year-old woman, a family with children, and several disabled occupants who say their bills are increasing and that the landowners have now removed access to an electrical substation, leaving the residents without power when the electrics trip.

For Gillian, this is especially concerning, as her 68-year-old husband Peter – who has had 14 heart attacks in four years – relies on a CPAP machine to regulate his breathing at night, meaning a power outage could be fatal.

“It’s getting ridiculous, I’ve had to buy candles and torches for all of the properties in case the power goes – I can’t have our older residents without electricity” she continued.

“If the power goes off at night, I just have to hope that one of us wakes up, or it could be fatal for Peter.

MP Lee Anderson meeting with caravan park residents on November 10

“It’s quite terrifying.

“One of the residents admitted to me that he isn’t eating or sleeping properly and is losing weight – it’s just awful.”

Retired Gillian also wants to clarify that residents understand that bills increase, and that homeowners are happy to pay the ‘going rate’ for their plots, but says that it is the ‘constant threats’ of bills being raised ‘sky high’ that is most worrying.

She continued: “If we are not paying enough, then that’s fine, but how can they tell us that they’re going to put our bills up sky high?

“It feels like constant threats – how can they tell us that we will all be billed the same amount for electricity regardless of our usage, and that we can’t do anything about it?

“Some residents are out all day at work – none of this is fair and we have had enough.”

Lee Anderson listened to residents’ concerns and said that, whilst it was a positive move that the council were checking on the standards of the park, that he would now be approaching them to see what action would be taken to enforce the Compliance Notice.

The MP said: “I have been helping these residents since this outrageous behaviour began.

“Of course it’s a good thing that the council highlighted the poor standards and served the Compliance Notice, but now is time for action.

“The council can, and should, carry out these repairs and bill the landowners.

“This is an awful situation for these people and they feel like they are being harassed.

“We stand together and I will not stand back and let these residents be bullied off – they deserve much better.”

A spokesperson from Ashfield District Council said: “Whilst Ashfield Mobile Homes is privately owned – we continue to support residents in every way we can.

“That’s why we served the Compliance Notice in the first place.

“This has been breached by the owners of the site.

“We are urgently seeking legal advice on the most appropriate next steps but are clear that the health and safety of residents is crucial.

“The Council will be in contact with residents as soon as we can to update them and we continue to assist residents in every way we can.”

ATE Farms Limited were approached for comment.

The owners said in a previous statement on the eviction notice being served: “We can’t afford to run the site anymore, and we have offered it back to the residents if they wish to buy it.

“The site has been there for years and unfortunately we took it on a few months ago and discovered it needs a fortune spending on it to bring it up to health and safety standards,” they added.

“This is something we can’t afford to do.

“By law we’re only supposed to give the residents 28 days to get off the site, but because many of them are elderly and we know a lot of them, it’s obviously come as a shock.

“I’ve tried to give them as much time as possible and, unfortunately because of the situation many of us have found ourselves in over the last 12 months, we want to give as much time as is humanly possible and offered to help them in any way we can.”